Government accused of ‘bully boy’ tactics over proposed budget cuts
THE Scottish Government has been accused of “bully boy” tactics in pressing councils to accept budget settlements.
Several councils plan to ignore the January 20 deadline for individual budget settlements from the Scottish Government before the draft budget is passed by Parliament.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay told the local authorities they would receive a “revised and inevitably less favourable offer” if they failed to sign up on time.
North Ayrshire, Inverclyde, North and South Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire and Renfrewshire plan to ignore the deadlines while Fife has asked for more information.
North Ayrshire Council leader Joe Cullinane told Mr Mackay: “I have carefully listened to the ‘spin’ being applied to the narrative around your draft budget and it is, quite frankly, smoke and mirrors.
“Your ‘offer’ involves local government receiving a realterms revenue cut of £327 million despite your own budget increasing.
“That cut means a reduction of approximately £9.2m for North Ayrshire Council.”
Clackmannanshire Council leader Bobby McGill said the local government settlement would bring “great hardship to those who require our services”.
Scottish Conservative local government spokesman Graham Simpson said: “The SNP is using bully boy tactics to force councils to accept this settlement.
“But the budget hasn’t even been approved by the Scottish Parliament yet, with no indication that it is close to being signed off.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley said: “Derek Mackay will have to amend his budget to get it through Parliament and it is therefore unbelievably arrogant of the SNP to try and force £327m of cuts onto councils when his own budget has not been finalised.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said local government had been treated “very fairly despite the cuts to the Scottish budget from the UK Government”.
He said “no local authority has rejected our plans”.
DEREK MACKAY: Warning of a less fvaourable offer.